Is the Rise of the Tea Party the Reconstruction & ‘Birth of a Nation’ all Over Again?

It’s important that we remember a couple of  old sayings 1-‘Nothing is new under the sun‘ and 2-‘If you don’t learn the lessons of history you are destined to repeat it‘.  Many people have forgotten about or never knew about DW Griffiths landmark film Birth of a Nation‘. It was taken from the book ‘The Clansmen‘ which depicted newly freed Black slaves running the government and causing the country to fall to pieces. The movie showed that this country was falling until an organization was formed that gave rise to the country and restored order. That outfit was the Ku Klux Klan‘.

The part that most people know about Birth of a Nation is the Reconstruction.. Here’s a clip and brief synopsis

Part 2: Reconstruction

Stoneman and his “mulatto” protegé, Silas Lynch, go to South Carolina to observe the expanded franchise. Black soldiers parade through the streets. During the election, whites are shown being turned away while blacks stuff the ballot boxes. The newly elected black legislature passes laws requiring white civilians to salute black officers and allowing mixed-race marriages.

Meanwhile, Ben, inspired by observing white children pretending to be ghosts to scare off black children, devises a plan to reverse the perceived powerlessness of Southern whites by forming the Ku Klux Klan. Elsie is angered by his membership in the group.

Then Gus, a former slave who became educated and gained a title of recognition through the army, proposes to marry Flora. Scared by Gus’ lascivious advances, she flees into the forest, pursued by Gus. Trapped on a precipice, Flora leaps to her death. In response, the Klan hunts Gus, tries him and finds him guilty, kills him, and leaves his corpse on Lieutenant Governor Silas Lynch’s doorstep. In retaliation, Lynch orders a crackdown on the Klan. The Camerons flee from the black militia and hide out in a small hut, home to two former Union soldiers, who agree to assist their former Southern foes in defending their Aryan birthright, according to the caption.

Meanwhile, with Austin Stoneman gone, Lynch tries to force Elsie to marry him. Disguised Klansmen discover her situation and leave to get reinforcements. The Klan, now at full strength, rides to her rescue and takes the opportunity to disperse the rioting negroes. Simultaneously, Lynch’s militia surrounds and attacks the hut where the Camerons are hiding, but the Klan saves them just in time. Victorious, the Klansmen celebrate in the streets. The film cuts to the next election where the Klan successfully disfranchises black voters and disarms the blacks. The film concludes with a double honeymoon of Phil Stoneman with Margaret Cameron and Ben Cameron with Elsie Stoneman. The final frame shows masses oppressed by a mythical god of war suddenly finding peace under the image of Christ. The final title rhetorically asks: “Dare we dream of a golden day when the bestial War shall rule no more? But instead-the gentle Prince in the Hall of Brotherly Love in the City of Peace.”

People should take a look at some of these clips and think about whats going on right now with the anger and racial hostility attached to your modern-day Tea Party and sympathizers.  There’s a study that by the University of Washington and the NY Times that shows the motivation behind the Tea Party was ‘conservatism’ (a desire to return to the good ole days) and the election of Barack Obama. We will be doing a radio show this week where the folks behind the study will go into great detail explaining all their findings. It’ll blow you away.

The other thing about the Tea Party is, it’s a media creation. The information, tone, marching orders are all rooted in a large network of right-wing media outlets  and personalities with Fox being the centerpiece.

The word used to describe this phenom is Videocracy... the use of media to move people politically. This happened in Italy with media mogul and its current President Silvio Berlusconi. There’s a documentary called  Videocracy that focuses on Berlusconi and his 30 year media reign over Italy and the impact that’s had. Needless to say he went all out to prevent the showing of this film on his vast networks.

This concept of Videocracy was also shown in Oliver Stone‘s new film South of the Border where he shows how media corporations including our own CNN has been used to push political agendas, help launch coups and  undermine democratic process in various countries.  Berlusconi’s ascension was called a coup of sorts and if the Tea Party creation becomes politically successful it’ll go down in history as a coup as well.

Race Riots resulted in a lynching in Omaha during the Red Summer of 1919

We need to keep all this in mind when looking at the clips from Birth of a Nation and recall all the increased lynchings, attacks and race riots that took place during the first few years after this  film was released. The most notable was the Red Summer of 1919. The movie  (media) created a hostile climate that lasted for years.

We should also keep in mind that the newly formed NAACP denounced the film while filmmaker DW Griffith emphatically denied the film was racist. If that wasn’t enough then President Woodrow Wilson not only gave the film two thumbs up.  He said  ‘It’s like writing history with lightening’. He added, that  his only regret was what the movie depicted was terribly true.

It’s hard not to draw parallels with the emphatic denials of racism by Tea Party leaders while witnessing the enthusiastic endorsement of racial hostility by political leaders and media pundits here in 2010. From the racial charged remarks of radio talk show host Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh to the overtly racist remarks by politicians like Sharon Angle, Debbie Riddle and Betty Brown one can see the handwriting on the wall. All this is compounded by the fact that there’s been a rise in right-wing hate groups and hate crime. The vitriol, vandalism and attacks we saw around the proposed ‘Ground Zero Mosque‘ (Park 51)  the other month underscored that point.

The bottom line is that we now have a climate where any shortfalls or discomfort will be scapegoated to people of color who have growing political, economic social power.

The other thing to keep in mind, is that  film premiered in Los Angeles which shortly after housed the largest Klan chapters in the country. The KKK was so powerful that in early 20s the group began protesting Hollywood’s film industry because of two films ‘The Pilgrim‘ and ‘Bella Donna’ which they felt did not depict them in a good light.

The Klan bolstered by the DW Griffith film saw themselves as a reform organization and political entity that demanded legitimacy. What do we see happening today with the Tea Party and its racism which is couched in so called ‘legitimate’ political discourse?

We see them being embraced and held up as a legitimate force that is on a mission to restore America.  For them restoring America means taking away any sort of safety net for those who have have fallen on hard times or are members of groups that have been systematically denied opportunities.

Restoring America means trying to change the constitution to to deny citizenship to Brown folks born here, under the guise of  ‘terror baby‘  and ‘anchor baby‘ threats.

In short restoring America means an aging population of people, scared of change and the Blacking and Browning of America are pulling out all the stops and going full steam ahead to not only hold on to power, but to also suppress those they deem a threat… Watch the clips below and when you get time, the full length feature and you’ll see that many are pushing to have a tragic part of this nation’s history repeat itself.

-something to Ponder-

Davey D

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Corporations are People: This is How that Effects Hip Hop & Enslaves You

Major props to Young Guru one of Jay-Z‘s top producers. He drops some hard-hitting jewels that every single artist in the industry needs to listen to over and over and over again. What Young Guru is talking about goes beyond music. If you want to know how this country is working, then you need to pay close attention to what he is saying about corporations. His breakdown on this is accurate, insightful and more important irrefutable. Again what Young Guru is speaking on is HOW AMERICA WORKS.. Please understand this lesson.

Lastly what’s great about this clip is Guru provides us with a solution. He starts off his remarks by explaining simply how you need to approach corporations. Again this goes beyond the music industry. Please share this with friends and family. This is true Hip Hop where the 5th element-Knowledge is being displayed .

Shout out to Hakim Green of Channel Live for putting this together.

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Chuck D: Insights on the Anthology of Rap

The Anthology Of Rap

We are living in a period of growth for hip-hop culture, led this time not simply by artists but by students and scholars. The word-revolution in rhyme has been reflected in a slew of necessary critical perspectives that shed light on hip-hop’s history and development. Books and multimedia on hip-hop culture and rap music have entered a boom period—or should I say BOOM BAP period: a time in which the recorded history and the breakdown of interpretations may be more entertaining than a lot of the new music being made today.

The Anthology of Rap is a landmark text. What makes it so important is that the voices included within it are from the artists themselves, but they are presented in a way that gives the words context and meaning as part of a tradition. Anyone could put together a bunch of lyrics, but an anthology does something more: it provides the tools to make meaning of those lyrics in relation to one another, to think about rap both in terms of particular rhymes, but also in terms of an art form, a people, and a movement. Every great literature deserves a great anthology. Rap finally has its own.

I first heard about The Anthology of Rap after meeting Dr. Adam Bradley at a symposium sponsored by the HipHop Archive at Harvard University. A few weeks later, I interviewed him on my Air America Network radio show, ON THE REAL, about his first book, Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop. I was fascinated by what I would call the emergent “artcademic” perspective he was describing. Here was someone who grew up with the music and had gone on to study it in a social context as well as “gettin down to it” on the level of language. He was spitting out a well-considered, highly analytical point of view to a mass audience that too often defines rap merely by what they hear on radio and see on television. Along with Dr. Andrew DuBois, Dr. Bradley has now brought us a book that just might break the commercial trance that’s had rap in a chokehold for the last several years. Rap now has a book that tells its lyrical history in its own words.

My own history in hip hop goes back decades. I started out in back in 1979 as a mobile DJ/MC under a crew called Spectrum City in Long Island, New York. Most of the shows we did were in less than ideal acoustic situations. Luckily my partner Hank Shocklee, who is now regarded as a sonic genius in the realm of recording, was just as astute about getting the best sound available out of the least amount of equipment. The challenge for many MCs was figuring out how to achieve vocal projection and clarity on inferior sound systems. I’ve always had a big voice, so my criteria was different because my vocal quality and power were audible. The content of my rhymes was heady because of what I knew. I’d been influenced by big voices like Melle Mel of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. I studied the rhymes and rhythms that worked and tried to incorporate my voice and subject matter in a similar manner. I had to be distinct in my own identity. That was a very important aspect to propel me beyond the pack.

Most MCs don’t listen to enough other MCs. As artists we need to open our ears to as many styles as possible, even—and maybe especially—those that are not commercially successful. In sports you must study the competition. You’ve got to game-plan. You’ve got to school yourself not just about the defending champions, but about every team in the league. In these times, the individualization of the MC has often meant isolation—artists focus on a single model, a single sound. Some focus is a good thing, of course, but too much leads to a lot of rappers sounding the same, saying the same things, finding themselves adrift in a sea of similarity.

Rakim's Flow on 'I Know U Got Soul' and Biz Markie's 'Nobody Beats the Biz' inspired Chuck D's flow on Rebel w/o a Pause

Having a range of lyrical influences and interests doesn’t compromise an MC’s art. It helps that art to thrive and come into its own. For instance, my lyrics on “Rebel Without a Pause” are uniquely mine, but even the first “Yes” I utter to begin the song was inspired by another record—in this case, Biz Markie’s “Nobody Beats the Biz,” a favorite of mine at the time. The overall rhyme style I deployed on “Rebel” was a deliberate mixture of how KRS-One was breaking his rhymes into phrases and of Rakim’s flow on “I Know You Got Soul.” Although the craft is difficult, the options are many and the limits are few. There are many styles to attend to and numerous ways to integrate them into your own art, transforming yourself and those styles along the way.

That’s where The Anthology of Rap comes in. It reminds us just how much variety truly exists in this thing we call rap. KRS-One raging against police brutality is far removed from Will Smith beefing about parents that just don’t understand or UGK explaining the intricacies of the street pharmaceutical trade, but all of them are united through rhyming to a beat. We learn more as rap artists and as a rap audience by coming to terms with all those things that rap has made.


Back in 2006 I did a collaboration with the great conscious rapper Paris. Paris singlehandedly created a Public Enemy album called Rebirth Of A Nation. At the time, people asked why an MC like me would relinquish the responsibility of writing my own lyrics. My reason was simple: I thoroughly respect the songwriter and happen to think there is a valuable difference between the vocalist and the writer. Rarely are people gifted in both or well trained and skilled enough to handle both at once. The unwavering belief that MCs should always and only spit their own rhymes is a handicap for rap. In my opinion, most writers shouldn’t spit and most vocalists shouldn’t write unless there is a unique combination of skill, knowledge, ability, and distinction. To have Paris write my lyrics as well as produce the music added a breath of freshness to my voice. I put my ego aside—a hard thing for a lot of rappers to do—and was rewarded with a new weapon in my lyrical arsenal, unavailable had I simply gone it alone.

In order for a lyric to last, it takes time and thought. Although top-of-the-head freestyles might be entertaining for the moment, they quickly expire. Even someone like Jay-Z, who claims never to write before rhyming, does his own form of composition. He has the older cat’s knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of the many facets of multi-dimensional life zones and the ability to exercise his quickness of wit and tongue. Few MCs have his particular combination of gifts. Lyricism is a study of a terrain before it’s sprayed upon like paint on a canvas. Most MCs would do better to think and have a conversation regarding what to rhyme about before they spit. While the spontaneity of the words to a beat might bring up-to-the-minute feelings to share, one cannot sleep on the power of the word—or in this case the arrangement and delivery of many words in rhythm.

When it comes down to the words themselves, lyricism is vital to rap, and because rap fuels hip-hop, this means that lyricism is vital to hip-hop culture as a whole. A rapper that really wants to be heard must realize that a good vocabulary is necessary like a good ball-handler sports his dribble on a basketball court. Something should separate a professional rapper from a 6th grader. Lyricism does that. Even when a middle school kid learns a word and its meaning, social comprehension and context take time to master. Even when a term or a line is mastered, the challenge should be on how many more peaks a rapper can scale to become a good lyricist. We all should know that the power of a word has both incited and prevented war itself.

Good lyrics, of course, have been around far longer than rap. They’re the life-blood of song. They direct the music and the music defines the culture. This is true for rap even though some mistake the music as being all about the beat. People sometimes overate the beat, separating it from the song itself. I ask folks would they rather just listen to instrumentals? The general response is no. Listeners want to have vocals driving the beat, but—importantly–not stopping it or slowing it down. It takes a master to ride any wild beat or groove and to tame it. Rakim, KRS-One, André 3000, MC Lyte, Black Thought and Nas are just a few such masters featured in this anthology. They will make the music submit to their flows while filling those flows with words to move the crowd’s minds, bodies, and souls. So reading lyrics on the page gives us a chance to understand exactly what makes these lyrics work. What’s their meaning? What’s their substance? How do they do what they do?

written by Chuck D

May 15 2010

original article:

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